‘Project Runway All Stars’ recap: What happened when the designers descended into ‘Mizrahi Madness’ [UPDATING LIVE]

After starting with 16 contestants, season 6 of “Project Runway All Stars” was down to 8 going into episode 8, “Mizrahi Madness.” So the stakes were twice as high, and the designers needed to work twice as hard to win the judges’ approval. Who won the design challenge, who was eliminated, and who do you think will win the season when all is said and done? Scroll down for our live, minute-by-minute report of episode eight as it happens.

Isaac Mizrahi is a judge on “All Stars,” but in “Madness” he was also the contestants’ inspiration. The designers had to create colorful party looks inspired by a Mizrahi exhibit, so they not only had to win his approval, they had to try to live up to his work. And joining the panel to evaluate those party designs was another legend of the fashion industry, 86-year-old supermodel Carmen Dell’Orefice.

Going into the episode contestant Anthony Williams was sitting pretty, leading our predictions to win the season on the strength of his consistent designs. He won the “Damsels in Distress” challenge. Then he received three more high scores from the judges, and after seven episodes he was the last remaining designer not to have received a single negative critique. But he hadn’t won as many challenges as Fabio Costa and Stanley Hudson, who had two apiece. Other past challenge winners among the top eight designers were Ken Laurence, Merline Labissiere and Joshua McKinley. The only two contestants who were still waiting for a week in the winner’s circle were Helen Castillo and Edmond Newton.

Did Castillo or Newton finally get their moment to shine, or did “Madness” overtake them? Find out below in our live blog. (All times listed are Eastern.)

9:00pm — Time for “Mizrahi Madness”! Eight designers left and only two of them are women. I wonder if Helen and Merline looked around them at this point and thought, “I guess we’re screwed.”

9:01pm — The contestants begin the episode at the Jewish Museum, where Mizrahi is being celebrated with an exhibition called “An Unruly History.” Mizrahi is known for his use of color, so he’s assigning the contestants their own specific colors. And they must decide on a complementary color to go with it.

9:03pm — Fabio gets green, but he’s from Brazil: “No one designs in green in my country” unless it’s for Carnival.

9:05pm — “People crave it without knowing it,” says Isaac about his attraction to color.

9:06pm — “I know I get very fiesty,” says Joshua. But Isaac counters, “Trust that all that [criticism] is coming from the right place.” I agree, and it sounds like Joshua took it to heart. Fingers crossed. He has only gotten one negative critique, and it set him off last week.

9:07pm — Helen likes Isaac’s color choice for her, purple, because it’s “intense” like she is.

9:09pm — Ken wants to add detail to his design this week, and not just the drama the judges are used to seeing from him.

9:10pm — “All the bad sh*t I was wishing on your creation this week, I take it all back,” says Anthony to Ken after Ken gives him a compliment. Anthony is like the child of sass and one-liners, and I love it.

9:12pm — Merline doesn’t like that Anthony is talking smack about her design. She’s creating more of the kinds of geometric shaping the judges have seen from her repeatedly before and wanted her to branch out from. Anthony didn’t criticize her to her face, but she overheard him talking behind her back. Okay, sometimes that Anthony sass crosses over into overly catty when he’s giving the side-eye to his fellow designers’ looks.

9:20pm — Time for some advice from mentor Anne Fulenwider. She loves Helen’s use of purple. She loves the way Edmond’s colors work together. “I’m curious how this going to be different from last week,” says Anne to Merline, echoing Anthony’s concern. “You had me until you got to the tiara,” Anne tells Joshua. And she thinks Fabio’s look is too 1950s. Stanley’s ideas are “very clever.” And she thinks Anthony’s look is elegant but he should aim higher than that. This was a surprisingly positive consultation. Anne is usually much more, shall we say, withering in her criticisms.

9:21pm — Merline seems like a whirlwind of activity, and a lot of her fellow designers have noticed. I wonder if she might be in trouble this week, especially after getting one of the harsher consultations from Anne.

9:22pm — Ken doesn’t have enough time to add the detailing he originally had in mind. “I can’t send this basic, strapless dress down the runway.”

9:23pm — Anthony was thrown off his game by Anne’s critique. He’s been rock-solid all season long. And the when he won the “Damsels in Distress” challenge he was insecure about his look too, so maybe a little self-doubt is a secret weapon for him.

9:26pm — “That child is getting moody,” says Fabio about Ken, who is creatively blocked and decided to take a long break from working on his look in any way, shape or form. Maybe that’s a smarter move than Fabio thinks. Is it worse to scramble with half-formed ideas or sit back and let your mind rest? Of course, when you only have one day for the design challenge you’ve got to make every minute count, so Ken’s time-out will need to be followed by a flurry of creative brilliance for him to complete a look the judges will like.

9:28pm — The show seems to be telegraphing that Merline and Ken will be in trouble with the judges this week, but it could be a misdirect where one or both turns out brilliant.

9:29pm — “Right now, at this moment, I have a basic-bitch dress,” says Ken, who hasn’t even figured out how to use his accent color. Helen says it’s his most “lackluster” design ever. It does look pretty simplistic at the moment.

9:33pm — “I think Joshua could potentially go home,” says Helen. But Joshua thinks Merline has the weakest look. Ken seems to be completely defeated. He’s about ready to give up when Anthony tells him to “just stitch the f***ing dress” until it’s done. Maybe not the ideal pep talk, but it seemed to work. Ken find the will to finish his dress, though it’s anyone’s guess if that finished look will keep him in the competition.


9:37pm — Alyssa Milano introduces Carmen Dell’Orefice along with regular judges Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman, who will be judging this week’s spring party looks.

9:38pm — I really like Ken’s finished look, his complementary color, and the asymmetrical drape. Not sure what he was worried about. Fabio’s green dress actually looks a little lackluster too me, very basic.

9:39pm — Stanley knocked it out of the part with a bold green top and bright pink skirt.

9:40pm — “It looks better than I thought it looked,” says Anthony about his own design. I love his use of bright yellow with purple details.

9:40pm — Edmond’s look is elegant and sexy in orange, but he could have made better use of his accent color.

9:41pm — “Mine is totally different from everyone else,” says Merline. That’s not necessarily a good thing. It looks a little all-over-the-place, not especially flattering to me.

9:42pm — Joshua went for simple and “chic.” I like it. No one completely bombed this challenge, I don’t think. Personally, my least favorite look is probably Merline’s.

9:43pm — Fabio and Joshua safely advance to the next round of the competition. That means Merline, Edmond, Stanley, Helen, Ken and Anthony represent the highest and lowest scores this week. I’m often surprised by who lands on which end of that spectrum.


Helen — “It’s really playful,” says Georgina. Isaac likes the eggplant and complementary blue shade. He thinks it’s “disco” but “modern.” “I’m not sure about this color scheme,” says Alyssa. But Carmen loved it.

Anthony — “The purple gets a little lost,” says Isaac about the dress, but he likes the style. Carmen loves it because “it would be easy to go to the bathroom” in it. But Georgina thinks it “feels tortured.”

Ken — “It’s perfection from the front,” says Georgina. “It looks so fresh and wonderful,” says Isaac. Carmen doesn’t like the zipper in the back, but Alyssa loves the silhouette. Georgina thinks he’s finding a “softness.” Sounds like a winner!

Edmond — “It’s such a simple, throwaway dress,” says Georgina about the too-simple design. Isaac thinks its too long and looks like a “pajama party.” Carmen compares it to a nightgown, but Alyssa loved it and gave him a high score.

Stanley — “I think it’s madly interesting. The colors are divine,” says Isaac. “I adore this dress,” says Carmen, but she doesn’t think the dress needs the construction underneath. Alyssa loves that construction, though.

Merline — Isaac loves the shade of blue, but not so much her choice of yellow to complement it. Alyssa thinks she should do an origami-inspired collection. I couldn’t actually tell if this was a positive or negative critique. They liked a lot about it.

9:54pm — From the judges’ deliberations, it sounds like the elimination is between Merline and Edmond. Merline was trying too hard, but Edmond wasn’t trying hard enough and didn’t give them enough design to even critique. Edmond hasn’t won a single design challenge yet, but Merline has, and the judges have yet to eliminate someone who has won a challenge, so maybe her busy design will beat Edmond’s sleepy design.


9:59pm — Ken is safe. So the winning designer, who will collaborate with Isaac on a Lord & Taylor collection, is Stanley. That means Helen is the runner-up. I can’t say I disagree with this decision. Stanley is now the only designer this season with three challenge wins.

10:00pm — Edmond had a low score, but is safe. Wow! I didn’t expect Anthony to be in the bottom two. That’s rather shocking to me. So it’s not surprising that between the two it was Merline who was sent home. No way they were going to send Anthony home for what was really a fairly competent look in my opinion.

10:06pm — I’ll be honest, I can’t disagree with the results of this design challenge, but it’s still rather mind-boggling that for the seventh episode in a row the challenge winner has been a man and the eliminated designer has been a woman. Merline was the only woman who had won a design challenge, and that was in the season premiere episode. Only one man has been eliminated, Carlos Casanova, and that was also in the season premiere. The impression you get is that the women have been inept and the men have been superb all season, and I just don’t think that’s been true as often as the results would indicate.


Who was eliminated? Merline Labissiere

Who will be in the bottom two, but safe? Anthony Williams

Who will win the challenge? Stanley Hudson

Who will be the challenge’s runner-up? Helen Castillo

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